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Selfless and Soaring: Senior embarks on year-long charity campaign

Senior criminal justice and sociology major Megan Gresham adopted 12 charities to benefit over 12 months as part of her Giving Graciously Campaign.
Senior criminal justice and sociology major Megan Gresham adopted 12 charities to benefit over 12 months as part of her Giving Graciously Campaign.

Senior criminal justice and sociology major Megan Gresham adopted 12 charities to benefit over 12 months as part of her Giving Graciously Campaign.

Photo courtesy of Megan Gresham

Photo courtesy of Megan Gresham

Senior criminal justice and sociology major Megan Gresham adopted 12 charities to benefit over 12 months as part of her Giving Graciously Campaign.

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When Megan Gresham saw a tattered, empty donation box outside of an animal shelter, she wiped her tears and started thinking of what she could do to help.

Gresham, a senior criminal justice and sociology double major, started the Giving Graciously Campaign as her New Year’s resolution, adopting 12 charities to benefit for the 12 months in a year.

“Seeing that box got my wheels turning,” she said. “All these places are in need and no one, including myself, really thinks about that.”

Gresham said she made a poll on Facebook to decide on the charities, which include the Easter Seals, Ronald McDonald House, Holly’s House and the Vanderburgh Humane Society.

“I’ve had a lot of people from far away who have said me donating and doing all these things for charity has been infectious,” she said. “Other people have donated in their communities, and that’s the ultimate reward. Me making a difference here is making a difference in different communities.”

For the charity this month, the Evansville Rescue Mission, Gresham has been collecting hats, gloves and deodorant sticks.

“Everything counts, and everything’s appreciated,” she said. “A lot of the scarves I personally donated were simply in the back of my closet. It’s amazing seeing that piece of clothing I don’t use turn into something someone else needs on a daily basis.”

Gresham said her box for donations has been filling up.

“The other day, some stuff fell off of the box on my desk,” she said. “I was in a bad mood until I picked stuff up and it wouldn’t even fit in the box. It made me stop and smile because I thought it would be hard to fill.”

Gresham said she hopes to keep spreading the word so that others give back alongside her.

“Just one person can make a difference,” she said. “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into it.”

Austin Bruce, Gresham’s boyfriend, said Gresham has always put others before herself.

“One of the first times we ever hung out, she gave her own sweatshirt to a lady sleeping under a walkway,” he said. “Her face lights up when she’s giving back to others.”

Together, Gresham and Bruce have bought hats and gloves to donate to the Evansville Rescue Mission.

“I feel like the people out there could use it more than we ever could,” Bruce said.

He said since Gresham has started the Giving Graciously Campaign, she seems “brighter.”

“She wants as many people as possible to act in this with her,” Bruce said. “She hopes other people give back and do whatever they can to help.”

Gresham’s friend and former sorority sister Claire Parmelee said she hopes to tag along in Gresham’s campaign efforts and also do some work on her own.

“While she has her group she’s helping every month, I thought of also reaching out to families or someone we know in need,” the junior communications major said. “That could be making them a meal or taking kids to the zoo, or buying books or flowers.”

Parmelee said she’s inspired by Gresham to give back to causes greater than herself.

“[Gresham] touches every heart that she comes in contact with,” she said. “She works for what she gets, and she’s such a beautiful person.”

Parmelee said the campaign was a “genius idea” and almost wishes she thought of it herself.

“I hope it’s successful,” she said. “I want [Gresham] to get the best outcome. She has one of the biggest hearts out of anyone that I have ever met.”

To donate or learn about volunteer opportunities, visit the Giving Graciously Campaign page on Facebook.

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Selfless and Soaring: Senior embarks on year-long charity campaign